There were a lot of people talking up small-ball on Tuesday night during that Royals game. But to paraphrase a hero of mine, allow me to observe that hokey strategies and ancient weapons like bunts are no match for a good three-run homer by your side, kid.
Every game but that first wild card game has been decided by big innings and homers and today’s Orioles-Tigers game is no exception. The Orioles struck first with a two-run homer by Nick Markakis in the bottom of the third. But then in the top of the fourth the Tigers hit back in a big way:
Wei-Yen Chen gave up a single to Torii Hunter and a double by Miguel Cabrera to lead things off. Then Victor Martinez singled to score Hunter, putting runners on first and third for J.D. Martinez. All he did is hit a three-run homer. And unlike Markakis’ homer, which was reviewed by replay officials to make sure it cleared the fence, it was a no-doubter. The next batter was Nick Castellanos, who hit a solo shot of his own to make it 5-2. Those five runs scored on ten pitches. It was something of a blitzkrieg.
As I hit “post,” that remains the score as we head into the bottom of the fourth. Chen has been yanked.
Viva big ball.
The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.
Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.
The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.
The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.